The wRap Indonesia: Dec. 18, 2014
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's tweets on the rupiah and Jakarta's new deputy governor lead our wrap of stories from Indonesia the past day.
1. SBY tweets on rupiah drop: Don’t blame me
Memang yg paling mudah adalah mencari "kambing hitam", atau harus ada pihak yg disalahkan, terutama terkait jatuhnya rupiah kita. *SBY*— S. B. Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) December 17, 2014
Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took to Twitter on Wednesday night to give his two cents on the surprising decline of the rupiah. Over more than 60 tweets of at most 140 characters each, he said the new government should not blame the previous administration for the current conditions, defended his economic policies, tackled the fuel subsidy, and asked people not to panic and give President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo a chance to solve the problem. The Twitter tirade was apparently prompted by a government official blaming the weakening rupiah on his government policies.
So why is the rupiah weakening so much? Vice President Jusuf Kalla blamed he strengthening US dollar, and Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro added that the plummeting Russian rubble contributed to it. But if external factors are causing it, why is the rupiah weakening more than, say, the Philippine peso, which declined 0.64% compared to 4.15% for the rupiah over the year? Unlike Indonesia, “the Philippines has a current account surplus," Bank Indonesia Senior Deputy Governor Mirza Adityaswara explained. Indonesia, under Yudhoyono, hit a near-record deficit of $9.1 billion, or 4.27% of GDP, in the second quarter this year.
2. Jakarta's new deputy governor is a lot like Jokowi
Jakarta has a new deputy governor. The 60-year-old former mayor of Blitar, East Java, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, was inaugurated in a low-key ceremony Wednesday. And so far, it looks like Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has found himself a partner similar to the one who left him to run the country. For starters, Djarot also used to bike to work in Blitar while he was mayor, like Jokowi, who started biking to work on Fridays as Jakarta governor last year. He's also likes going out to meet and talk with people, in the same manner Jokowi does his popular blusukan (surprise visits). He was also named one of the country's best local leaders by Tempo magazine in 2008, an award Jokowi also received. Reporters also find him to be similarly modest and humorous. Read Rappler's profile on him here.
3. Almost 85% of Indonesians want direct elections
A month before the legislature decides whether to bring back direct elections for local executive positions or not, a recent survey held by the Indonesian Survey Institute reaffirms the belief that Indonesians overwhelmingly want to choose their own mayors and governors. The survey carried out from October 25 to November 3 found 84.1% of respondents in favor of direct elections (though actual voter turnout in local polls are often much lower than that). Though more costly than the alternative – where regional council members choose the mayors and governors – giving people the right to directly choose their leaders was more important, according to 66.8% of respondents.
4. No fines imposed for Jakarta motorcycle ban’s first month
While a number of motorbike-riders complained Wednesday that they were not aware of the new policy banning them from using a key stretch of road in Central Jakarta, the city’s traffic police said this trial period was exactly for that: to raise awareness about the new policy. This means motorbikes who find themselves passing through Jalan MH Thamrin from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Jalan Merdeka Barat would not be ticketed but just directed to the nearest parking lot or alternate routes. It also seems the city wasn’t completely ready for it: 5 double decker buses that were supposed to shuttle motorbike-less commuters for free were not yet operational on Wednesday.
5. 83 bodies now recovered from Banjarnegara landslide
As of Thursday, December 18, almost a week since the tragic landslide in Banjarnegara, Central Java, buried more than a hundred people and dozens of homes, rescuers and thousands of volunteers have been able to dig up 83 bodies. The search and rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather, with heavy rainfall raising fears of more landslides. But rescuers say they will continue looking for the 25 still missing. Read the full story from the Jakarta Post. – Rappler.com